In my teenage years, I was a very angry, loud and shut down person (some of you are probably thinking…… What’s changed?). When I was 14 my family and I began going to a new church. The Church was a brand new Church plant and we were the first family to attend. My then pastor, now friend/unofficial spiritual guide, was a guy named Corey. I think if you spent any time with me, it wouldn’t be hard to notice this anger and abrasiveness of my character and demeanor. Yet, Corey would meet with me weekly. He’d endure me listening to Creed and P.O.D in my basement while we would play Madden 2001 on my PS2. Our time together, he would interject encouraging comments and hope for and within me.
When you feel lost in the world, you need people like Corey. We are closed off to our desires. We crash inwardly and we become the habits of our own self-destructive behavior and thoughts. When someone recognizes you, actually sees you, you are not only less lonely and lost, but, what this person does is opens up a new reality for you. Their recognition, allows you to recognize yourself and you can begin to see things from a higher vision. First, with their recognition of you, then, hopefully, from God.
Two and a half years ago, Corey, myself (but mostly Corey) and a few other people started an organization called Launch Ministry (www.launchministry.org) to do on a larger scale what Corey did for me at 14. Launch was established to expose young adults between 18-25 years old to opportunities that will promote healthy, productive transitions into adulthood. When youth groups end, when organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister programs end for our High Schooler’s, what happens to those kids who weren’t recognized as kids? What happens to the kids who have no dreams? What happens to the kids who have no one to guide them along the way?
The more intimately I get to know Jesus, the more intimately he recognizes me. His recognition of me is a gift. He warmly and kindly swindles his way into my heart and gracefully recognizes my pain, my doubts and my fears. In the times of my loneliness, he is not absent and whispers to me “I see you”. This to me has to be the mission of the Church. To recognize every human being on this earth and say “I see you”.
About two years ago, Corey was talking with a guy who went to the youth group that Corey and I were apart of for the Church he pastored. This guy, unfortunately left due to unforeseen circumstances and we lost contact with him. One day, he texts Corey “Why does God hate me?”, Corey asked him out to coffee knowing the extent of the question had a very revealing question behind it. The guy we knew had a troubled childhood, where his absent father had been married over 5 times, his mother was absent from his life. In the midst of living with his dad and his constant chaos, his Dad decided to pack up and leave, and, told him he could stay at the house until it foreclosed because he was leaving. He went from friends house to friends house, trying to borrow and scrape enough food from meals to get by for the day, week. Eventually the electricity in the house was shut off. He lived in an extremely large, dark house with no parents and no transportation. No life for a 17-year-old. He shortly after sent Corey this text “Why does God hate me?”.
Corey stepped alongside him. Helping him find a job, find a place to live, plugging him into Launch, where he made friendships. A few months after the initial question Corey asked him if he thought if God still hated him, as his needs were met, this question had completely left him, and, he began to see how God loved him, was providing for him and was giving him a new life. Corey’s recognition of him opened up his world. Nearly two years later, he is studying Pre-Med and leading worship at his campus ministry.
We all need to be recognized don’t we? Sometimes, we are the victims of our own questions, desires, and thoughts, and, we need to be seen to have our worlds re-opened. My hope is that we are the type of people who can recognize others. The type of people who don’t live so fast that we forget to see others and their circumstances. This is where we get to play apart of God’s mission for the earth when he whispers to all of us “I see you”.